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Pipeline Safety Stakeholder Communications

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PIPA Recommended Practice ND15

ND15 "Plan and Locate Vegetation to Prevent Interference with Transmission Pipeline Activities"

Practice Statement Trees and other vegetation should be planned and located to reduce the potential of interference with transmission pipeline operations, maintenance, and inspections.

Audience(s): Local Government, Property Developer and Owner

Practice Description

Federal and state pipeline safety regulations require transmission pipeline operators to periodically patrol their pipeline rights-of-way (ROW) to observe surface conditions on and adjacent to the ROW for indications of leaks, construction activity, and other factors that could affect pipeline safety and operation. These patrols are often done by air, using helicopters or planes. To facilitate such aerial inspections, transmission pipeline operators may keep their pipeline ROW clear of trees and tree branches that overhang and obscure the ROW. Pipeline operators may remove or side-cut trees if they obscure or impede the inspection and maintenance of the ROW.

The transmission pipeline ROW should be clearly identifiable apart from trees or other tall vegetation. Property developers/owners should not place trees or vegetation on the pipeline ROW without the pipeline operator's permission. Trees and vegetation planted outside the pipeline ROW should not obstruct the ROW or associated markers or signage. Thus, planting trees and vegetation with broad canopies adjacent to the ROW should be avoided.

Trees and other vegetation should be located and controlled so as not to impede the pipeline operator's ability to access, inspect and maintain the transmission pipeline. Additionally, trees and other vegetation adjacent to a transmission pipeline ROW with root systems that may reach down to the pipeline should also be avoided, since contact from their root systems may physically impact the pipe or its protective coating.

The landowner/developer and transmission pipeline operator should work together using local land use planners and landscape and forestry professionals to make landscape choices that are acceptable.